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How to choose between welding and metal fabrication

The modern world owes so much to contemporary infrastructure, but it’s fair to say that the majority of it isn’t familiar with the process of its creation, which is where we step in.

Metal needs to be heavily processed and reconstituted prior to its use in any infrastructural project. Extreme amounts of heat, pressure and hardwork are combined to give the metal (our buildings and roads) its final, glorious form.

We obtain the incredible strength and durability of metal by the most important metalworking process – fabrication, and all of its following niches, welding being one of the most important ones.

Let’s learn a little of both, hoping that will help us understand better how they coexist and how you can benefit from choosing to work with us.

Fabrication encompasses many different techniques

Welding and metal fabrication is a process of creating a metal product “from scratch”. With a design, layout and incorporating other shaping techniques. Custom metal fabrication often consists of multiple pieces, all cut, drilled, notched, folded, bent and welded to create whatever the customer is in need for or/and demands. 

The main difference is that both metal working or fabrication and welding require a different set of skills and many different tools in the process. Fabrication is more of a holistic process.

Fabrication begins with layout and design that is determined by engineers and sent to builders that make a particular structure or component. In most cases, fabricators use numerous different tools and techniques in order to fabricate every metal product.

Design and layout of the custom metal fabrication

Before committing to any other welding or bending – we have to know how the final product is supposed to look. For instance, MR Industrial services create and provide the design for each metal part, using special 3D animation, which is how we make everything fit together.

Metal shaping consists of cutting, bending and welding

Implementing metal bender tube

High precision cutting is one of the most important parts in metal working if you want your parts to fit together harmoniously. Metal shaping requires many different skills and a variety of equipment (manual – MMA welding and robotic) – there’s more to metal fabrication than just joining two pieces into one.

The shaping process often begins by cutting sheets of metal to the appropriate size using different cutting machines, including mechanical saws, laser cutters, and plasma torches. 

A fabricator uses a lathe to remove parts of the metal, creating holes through which bolts will ultimately pass. Bending machines, like stretchers and shears, add necessary angles to the metal piece (mostly used in sheet metal fabrication).

Most metal fabrication tools have a tabletop nature, placing the metal part on the tool and then carefully manipulating it in order to give it form. Welding tools usually require that the job gets done “by hand” (MMA welding or using a stud welder gun).

Welding – one of the techniques in custom metal fabrication

Put in simple words, welding is the fusion of two or more pieces of metal. We can join together two pieces of metal, glass, or thermoplastics with welding and the only necessary stipulation are similar melting points.

There are numerous different techniques for merging welding supplies. Different types of welding techniques include shielded metal arc welding, flux core arc welding, MIG welding etc. Joining can be achieved in three ways:

  1. Fusion welding – Heating welding supplies until melting point
  2. Pressure welding (important in sheet metal fabrication)
  3. Brazing – Using metal material with a lower melting point than base metal as a filler (filling the gaps)

Welding utilizes a vastly different set of tools including welding clamps, torches, power sources, stud welder, consumable electrodes, abrasives. The complexity of the welding process often requires more specialized practitioners, although some fabricators also possess the ability to weld.

In addition, the use of specific safety equipment is much needed. Auto-darkening welding helmets protect workers’ eyes from the ultraviolet rays and sparks, and respirators shield them from dangerous fumes (for example during MIG welding).

It’s important to realize that a welder is a metal fabrication worker. While different types of welding certainly are extremely important in the metal fabrication process, it is just one operation in the overall process.

If you hire “just” a welder, you have to be aware of the fact that you are hiring someone that can join two pieces of metal together using heat – he may or may not know anything of other metal fabrication processes.

The Bottom Line

While both welding and metal fabrication processes deal with managing and shaping metal, welding is more of a basic activity, while metalworking deals with the entire bundle: 

  • welding, 
  • cutting, 
  • bending
  • assembling parts.

Many managers won’t trust a welder with performing complex, fabrication activities on a regular basis. The important thing to remember is that a well-organized manufacturing or construction company will always assign the people best suited to carry out every task and help you decide which of these processes better suit your own requirements.

Due to having contracted some of the most highly trained employees and some of the best metal fabrication equipment available, we are able to make metal parts for your construction site that are lighter, more durable and more efficient, thanks to our expertise and experience in the field.